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n Obstetrics and Gynaecology Forum - Exercise in pregnancy : review
Historically, pregnancy was regarded as a state of confinement. More recently, however, research has demonstrated many potential health benefits of aerobic and strength-conditioning exercise in pregnancy and the postpartum period. It is now considered safe, and even advisable, for otherwise healthy pregnant women to initiate or continue an active lifestyle during pregnancy.
Many anatomical and physiological changes take place during pregnancy and while there is no evidence to suggest that exercise in pregnancy is associated with any maternal or fetal adverse outcomes, it is prudent to adjust exercise regimes where necessary to avoid potential harm. Contact sports as well as sports associated with a risk of falling should be avoided. Brisk walking, stationary cycling, and swimming are examples of aerobic exercises that are recommended in pregnancy.
It is advisable for all pregnant women wishing to pursue exercise in pregnancy to be screened for contra-indications and risk factors, and for subsequent recommendations to be made on an individual basis. It is useful to classify pregnant women into the sedentary, recreational, and competitive athlete, as this will help guide the intensity of exercise. All women should be aware of warning symptoms that may develop during physical activity, and advised to stop the exercise and seek medical advice should they occur.
Exercise forms only one component of a healthy lifestyle. A nutritious diet, adequate hydration, and abstinence from smoking, alcohol and illicit drugs are crucial in maintaining optimal health during pregnancy.
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